Jordan ‘sifts’ Syrian refugees to turn away Assad ‘infiltrators’
AMMAN - Jordan has tightened border controls to prevent loyalists of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from infiltrating into the kingdom, an official of the opposition Syrian National Council said on Tuesday.
"Jordan used to have an open border policy with the Syrians, but now new regulations prevent some Syrians from entering the kingdom," Amman-based SNC official Nizar Heraki said.
"We understand these regulations. Jordan has legitimate fears that followers of the Syrian regime could come to the kingdom to carry out acts of sabotage."
Heraki however said he receives "dozens of complaints every day that the Jordanian authorities are denying entry to some Syrians, including women and children."
"Around 50 Syrians have been stranded for a while at Amman international airport. Jordan says they are not considered as refugees but I do not understand why they are not allowed in," he said.
"In some cases, Jordan helped us get people here. At the same time, we have advised the authorities to ban others."
Jordanian officials said some Syrians have been banned on "security grounds."
"There are no new regulations. The Syrian authorities decide who comes in and who does not," a government official said, refusing to elaborate.
Jordan is hosting more than 120,000 Syrians, of whom 20,000 are registered with the United Nations.
"To my knowledge, Jordan did not prevent anybody from coming through the border crossing," said Zayed Hammad, head of the prominent Ketab and Sunna Society, which takes care of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.
"We still receive at least 200 people from Syria every day."
But Abu Mohammad, a Syrian who lives in Amman, said one of his relatives was denied entry last week, "because he was under 50."
"He tried last week to cross the border with his father. The authorities allowed his father and not the son. Eventually, the father refused to cross without his son," Abu Mohammad said.
The 15-month-old uprising against Assad has killed more than 14,400 people, according to human rights monitors.